While the eyes are busy with the micro-disciplines that reading demands, their work must be supported by complex manual skills and efficient whole body postures. Reading is a habitual practice, connected in complex ways to many other physical habits of everyday life—eating, falling asleep, taking a bath, riding in a car or on the subway, walking on a treadmill, using the toilet, waiting in the doctor’s office, and so on. Reading postures must adapt intelligently but unconsciously to all of these circumstances, making it possible for the eyes to do their work wherever and whenever we read. When we are engaged in the hard, interpretive work of reading, we cannot focus our attention on how we hold the book, how we turn its pages, how we support its weight, or how we align the body for long-term comfort. So we habitualize the physical work, mastering the procedures to the point at which they recede below conscious awareness. Within the optical logic of the practice, which demands that the book be consistently available to the eyes, we are free to create our own idiosyncratic, stylized postures and movements, accomplishing the physical work with a personal accent. The goal of this chapter is to bring those unconscious habits to light and to speculate about the contributions that ritualized postures and gestures make to the interpretive work of reading.
KeywordsBody Schema Reading Posture Body Figure Physical Intimacy Interpretive Work
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